The Importance of Intersectionality in Supporting Students with Disabilities

While universities have made inroads to diversify their student body, more effort needs to be made to include students with a disability into these diversity and equity programs. Students with a disability are often looked at only by their disability, rather than holistically and are often left out of diversity resource conversations that could help them navigate other aspects of university life.

As noted in a recent InsideHigherEd piece:

"The Black resource center is inclusive for Black people, the women’s center is inclusive for women, the LGBTQ resource is inclusive for those who are LGBTQ themselves. But I don’t see that intersectionality and I feel really weird and off when I try to talk about disability in those spaces.."

According to the most recent data from 2016, students with a disability make up 20% of undergraduates of all backgrounds, genders, ethnicities, and race. This means students with a disability need support navigating other barriers that their disability can hinder them from as they navigate transitioning into young adulthood. This means helping them answer questions about who should know about their non-visible disability(such as a learning disability, ADHD, etc.), how to balance academic coursework, learn to socialize with students in a dorm setting, and provide them with strategies to navigate the social aspects of a university life, as InsideHigherEd’s Lilah Burke wrote.

"The disabled community is not a monolith, and how people experience a disability is filtered through their race and other characteristics, and vice versa. For example, both Black and disabled individuals are overrepresented among victims of police killings, creating unique implications for people who are both Black and disabled."

Luckily for universities, Symplicity Accommodate can help build a culture of accessibility and inclusion at your university. Accommodate allows for disability services to communicate, in one system, across campus to help students with all aspects of a student’s success by identifying campus resources for students . By modernizing the accommodation request process with a fully ADA-compliant interface, Accommodate allows students to seamlessly submit requests, submit note to disability offices for questions, connect with note-takers, have assistive devices checked out and tracked, build workflows to ensure that all campus offices are staying connected, and more. It is up to universities to make sure that they build a culture of accessibility by providing students with the ability to approve accommodation requests online, ensure fast and cohesive communication between colleagues, and easily track accessibility resources like study room availability, software and device inventory, and more. Utilizing Symplicity Accommodate’s reporting tool can empower disability services offices to proactively engage and train faculty/staff on the campus needs for a university’s students with a disability needs outside of looking at just one's disability, by providing robust data to back up the necessary needs of students.

For those interested in learning more about Accommodate, schedule a conversation with us or email
Disability Services, Accommodation Requests, Accommodations, Accessibility Services, Accommodate, black students, Americans with Disabilities Act, Learning Disability, gender, intersectionality, LGBTQI

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